Ceren Lordoğlu is the author of the book entitled Being Single Woman in İstanbul (İstanbul’da Bekar Kadın Olmak), based on her dissertation focusing on the experiences of single women living in İstanbul. The book, published in 2018, analyzes experiences of single women in İstanbul in three different districts and elaborates on the gendered dimensions of the urban space while scrutinizing the notions of neighborhood, security and urban space. Lordoğlu’s academic interest is mainly focused on qualitative research techniques and feminist geography. Hande Gülen, Phd student at the French Institute of Geopolitics (Paris8 University) conducted an exclusive interview with Ceren Lordoğlu for Observatoire de la Turquie Contemporaine. Enjoy the reading.
1. How different single women from the neighborhoods of your field research, Kadıköy, Bağcılar and Sarıyer, respond to different ‘curious looks’ of neighborhoods’ inhabitants or different forms of ‘discomfort of stigmatization’? What are the tactics and the strategies of women to these processes?
While conducting my field research in three different regions of Istanbul, I used qualitative methods. The research group interviewees, which I designated as single, tenant and householder women, told their life stories along with their narratives focusing on their houses, relocations and neighborhoods. Needless to say, as one of the main components of qualitative methodology, I don’t have any representation claim concerning the experiences of the interviewees. However, this methodology has the strength of revealing the similarities and differences between different narratives, so I aimed to make these unseen patterns visible. Moreover, in Istanbul, different class settlements can coexist at the same region, in close distance to each other. In order to see class clustering at the bigger scale, the works of social cartographers based on rental costs can be observed. Therefore, the tactical similarities developed by women living in different regions can arise from this sort of class similarity.
According to my research, single women develop various tactics to deal with the discomfort of stigmatizing. Sometimes they ignore the curious gaze of their neighbors, sometimes they express themselves by courageous reactions and performances (being called as the madwoman of the neighborhood), and sometimes they develop other different tactics. These tactics are often developed within the framework of keeping distance and (if she is married and divorced) not sharing their newly single status within their neighborhood. They vary in a wide range of spectrum: to put the shoes of the ex-husband in front of the house every night and prepare a scene for the neighbors as if he was still coming to the house; not to inform the neighbors about the divorce until the changing surname at the invoice posts get noticed (where the neighbors can see the invoice envelops at the common areas of the apartment halls); to introduce the boyfriend as a relative who shares the house or visits her frequently; in the case of living together as an unmarried couple to wear engagement rings in order to pretend as they are married or engaged; to wear more conservative clothes at the neighborhood and change them when getting closer to the city center where they work.
Bayram Balcı et Sümbül Kaya, Institut français d’études anatoliennes, 17 février 2021, photo: Jean-François Pérouse
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